Most Americans aren't familiar with fava beans, so we hope this post will make them seem less mysterious and cause more people to give them a try.
It takes a lot of bean pods to produce enough fava beans per serving, so plan on buying one pound bean pods per person. Select pods that are green and somewhat smooth. If the beans are over-bulging underneath the pods, that means they are older and likely to be bitter.
Note: fava beans (also called broad beans and pigeon beans) are high in tyramine, and shouldn't be eaten by people who take MAO inhibitors (e.g. antidepressants.)
From here, you can steam them till tender, and toss them in a mixture of salt, olive oil, and lemon juice. Or you can mash them and spread them on bruschetta, or fold them into mashed potatoes. They're also a great addition to a green salad, a risotto dish, or pasta.
Here are some fava bean recipes to try out:
Recipe: Ricotta Pasta with Fava Beans and Bacon
Grill Recipe of the Day: Grilled Rainbow Chard With Fava Beans And Oregano
Fava Bean Dip with Roasted Garlic and Yogurt
Ancient Egyptian Recipe: Ful Medammes - a stewed fava bean dish marinated with garlic, parsley, and lemon juice that is still a staple of Egyptian diets.
(Image: Kathryn Hill)